Gearing up for a new baby begins the moment you learn that you’re pregnant. Whether you already have children or are experiencing motherhood for the first time, the ups and downs associated with pregnancy, delivery and a new baby can be emotionally taxing and physically draining. The period after giving birth causes your hormones to shift noticeably–and unexpectedly. Allow yourself to experience these highs and lows, knowing that they’re natural and they will pass. If you’re concerned about how you feel, research the signs of post-partum depression and speak candidly to your doctor if you are experiencing any of the symptoms.
True wellness should be viewed holistically, and there are many day-to-day things you can do to keep your energy up and give yourself the best shot at feeling great as you adjust to your new life.
Take it slow–exercise lightly.
Get moving as soon as you feel comfortable–but don’t overdo it. Resist the urge to jump on the treadmill and try to shed any pregnancy weight. Avoid strenuous activities like running or weight lifting until after your six-week post-partum check-up. Your doctor should okay your increase in activity. Celebrity culture encourages women to hit the gym the week after giving birth, but if you want to achieve truly healthy weight loss, it’s important that you listen to your body and not take on more than you can safely handle.
Eating well has never been more important.
You won’t be getting much sleep so you need to make sure that you fuel your body with high quality, energy-rich foods. Eat many small meals throughout the day to sustain your energy. General healthy diet guidelines apply post-baby: lean proteins, whole grains and lots of leafy greens. That said, go easy on yourself. If you’re craving a donut, allow yourself the indulgence. Don’t put more stress on yourself by setting unreasonable expectations. Take your time, stick to a nutritious diet, get regular exercise and you’ll find that healthy weight loss will follow.
Calm your anxieties with meditation.
With so much going on, your mind is likely to be racing at all hours of the day–and even well into the night. Set aside 5-10 minutes a day to sit in a comfortable spot and focus on your breath, letting your thoughts flow past and resisting the urge to concentrate on any one thing. This quick daily meditation will calm your nerves and help you focus the energy you do have to be the most effective.
Accept help when it’s offered.
Limit visitors during the first few weeks after giving birth to allow yourself time to rest. But after that, don’t shy away from the help offered by others. Whether it’s picking up groceries, watching the baby while you shower or straightening up the house, remember that no one expects you to do it all. Your friends and family are happy to defray some of the household responsibilities to allow you more time to rest and bond with your baby.
Love and admire your body.
Remember that your body has done something miraculous: it has nurtured human life and brought it into existence. Don’t waste time comparing your post-baby body to any other physique you’ve ever had. Instead, know that your body has gone through a tremendous amount of change–and still has a lot of adjusting to do as your hormones stabilize. If you’re eager to lose weight, remember that healthy weight loss comes with patience and repetition. Measure your progress over the course of months, not weeks or every time you step on the scale.
New motherhood is an exciting time. Try to maintain physical and emotional balance by keeping your stress levels down and your energy up. Don’t rush or overextend yourself. Take all the time to you need to create healthy patterns as you settle into your new life.